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Andrei GOLOVIN (b.1950)
Orchestral Music
Light Unapproachable - Symphony No. 4 (2013) [25:26]
Canzone for Cello and String Orchestra (2008) [16:05]
Concerto-Symphony for Viola and Cello with Orchestra (Symphony No. 1) (1976) [23:22]
Alexander Rudin (cello), Mikhail Bereznitsky (viola)
Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra/Andrei Golovin
Musica Viva Chamber Orchestra/Alexander Rudin (cello)
Moscow Conservatoire Concert Symphony Orchestra/Anatoly Levin
rec. 2009-14, State House of Broadcasting and Sound, Moscow; Great Hall, Moscow Conservatoire.
First recordings

Muscovite Golovin was born into a musical family and went on to study at the Moscow Conservatoire with the composer Evgeny Golubev (1910-1988), a Miaskovsky student. Golovin is himself a conductor, as we can hear in the Cello Classics' recording of the Miaskovsky Cello Concerto made with his friend and artistic collaborator, the cellist Alexander Rudin. He is now a teacher at the Gnessin Institute, the very school where Golovin's mother taught.

We begin this first-ever survey of Golovin's orchestral music with the most recent piece: Light Unapproachable - Symphony No. 4. The first of two movements presents a mirror surface of trembling violins. Wisps of melancholy introspective melody rise to slowly erupting magnificence. This may remind you for a few moments of Butterworth's Shropshire Lad rhapsody. It's all very tonal and just a bit dour. The second and last movement is steely at first, as if challenging the audience, but this falls away to silence. The music re-emerges as a constantly moving contemplation with repetitive development among aspiring strings. The aspiration is achieved (tr. 2 6:33) with statuesque, heroic writing which is at times dense with Scriabin-like involution. The symphony ends with razor-harsh, defiant violins.

The Canzone is a no-nonsense rhapsodic song for cello and orchestra. This is here given an impassioned reading. The material deployed is minimal but comes across as eloquent and dense in concentration and projection. Until stilled the huge surges of the violins take Golovin close to the first movement of Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony. The final five minutes find a quiet inward-facing dignity.

The First Symphony is from forty years ago and the notes by Fedor Sofronov tell us that this marks the start of Golovin's mature voice. Its five short movements include an unruly Allegro vivace with some stuttering Beethovenian pugnacity. No sign of the long lines of the other two works in this movement. That aspect can be found in the Largo (III) with romantic pastiche not in short supply: Brahms meets Elgar. There is no shortage in this work of borrowings from the Germanic nineteenth century. The Presto speaks of heavily underlined determination. The final Andante finds a style that has the two solo instruments singing out across long cantilena-drenched paragraphs.

Some listeners will already know of Golovin from his appearances as a composer on various mixed recitals reviewed here: review ~ review ~ review. His music is not drawn into the complexity of Valentin Silvestrov but shares that composer's leaning toward melody and eloquence. By contrast Golovin has no truck with the sort of hieratic mystical post-Scriabin severity of Golovin's contemporary Sergei Zhukov. Golovin favours a less adorned approach where there is no room to hide the quality of his ideas and treatment in thickets of activity.

The English-only liner essays by Fedor Sofronov and Igor Prokhorov are up to Toccata Classics’ usual standard. They balance advocacy and information: enthusiasm meets facts specific.

Recording quality is good and clear - certainly not sumptuous but not lacking in emphasis and reach.

Rob Barnett




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